The Indian armed forces commenced complex drills off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on 21st January, the defense ministry announced on Thursday. The exercise aims to fine-tune joint war-fighting capabilities and sharpen operational synergy between the three services, with the high-tempo activity involving fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, warships, infantry combat vehicles, and elements of special forces,
The exercise, codenamed Kavach (shield), is being conducted at a time when India and China are locked in a border standoff in the eastern Ladakh theatre, and the Indian Navy has stepped up surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to keep tabs on China’s moves to expand its footprint in the strategic waters.
The Kavach exercise will involve the synergized application of maritime surveillance assets, coordinated air and maritime strikes, air defense, submarine, and landing operations. The scope of the exercise will cover joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks that will involve the military’s technical, electronic, and human intelligence elements.
From carrying out naval drills with like-minded countries to reaching out to states in the IOR, India’s focus remains on checking China’s rising ambitions in the region and sending out a strong message that Beijing’s power play in the South China Sea cannot be replicated in the Indian Ocean.